CCHIT Town Hall at HIMSS

I must admit that I’m so happy to be home from HIMSS. It was a fantastic couple of days, but it’s always nice to be at home. Not to mention, posts are so much more fun on a regular keyboard with 2 monitors. Of course, my email box is full of the notes that I took during the various interviews I did at HIMSS. So, you can expect a lot more posts talking about the things I learned and saw at HIMSS. Not to mention a video series of innovative and interesting products at HIMSS (Sponsored by Practice Fusion).

For my first post after HIMSS, I decided that I couldn’t help but post about the CCHIT town hall at HIMSS. I really said a lot of what I thought on my twitter account, but I’m sure that many missed it. So here’s a short summary of my thoughts with some other commentary on Mark Leavitt’s swan song at HIMSS.

The first thing that bothered me most is what has bothered me about CCHIT for a long time. However, this time I could document first hand the things that CCHIT was saying that was confusing doctors about what the CCHIT EHR certification was all about. Here’s what I recorded them saying (usually on their powerpoint too) that really doesn’t tell the whole story:
“Maximal assurance of comprehensive, integrated EHR capabilities”
Maximal assurance of what? That the EHR is comprehensive? No doubt doctors will see this as saying that a certified EHR will have all of the EHR features that they need. However, how does CCHIT know that it will have all the features all of the various types of practices need? Of course they don’t. They would even admit that it doesn’t. It just is able to run their test scripts based on a list of requirements. That’s where they confuse doctors.

“EHR with all necessary functionality”
“Everything you need in an EHR if you do the comprehensive certification.”
Same principle as the previous comment. How can they know what’s necessary? They don’t.

As I sat there listening to this, I wondered if I should get up and ask them a question. I wasn’t sure that me asking a question would be of any value. Then, I decided that I should at least try and help those in the audience to understand the real benefits (or lack thereof) of CCHIT certification. So, I got up and asked the following question (more or less):

What type of assurance does CCHIT offer to doctors? Does it offer better patient care? Are certified EHR more likely to be implemented successfully? What assurance can you offer beyond just talking about the process you went through to create the criteria?

They both (Mark Leavitt and Alisa Ray) kind of looked like they didn’t quite understand the comment. However, Mark basically responded that CCHIT doesn’t make any guarantee of increasing successful EMR implementations or improve patient care. He said that he didn’t think anyone could make that guarantee. CCHIT assures doctors that it meets the criteria that has been created.

Many people wonder what I have against CCHIT. I actually don’t really have any real ties to CCHIT (see my previous post). It just really bothers me when doctors get the wrong impression based on a miscommunication. I don’t like it when EMR salespeople confuse doctors through EMR sales miscommunications and I don’t like when doctors don’t understand what they’re really getting from a certified EHR.

The real problem is that even writing this post, far too few people will get the real message about the benefits (or lack thereof) that are provided by CCHIT certification. Although, I was pleased by all the people I’d never met before stopped me around the conference and told me that I asked a very important question at the CCHIT town hall.

Enough of that for now. Here’s some of the other items that I tweeted about CCHIT (some additional comments in italics):
CCHIT to certify Oncology and Women’s health(Obstetrics and Gyn). Will doctors care? EMR vendors might.

CCHIT had 23 comprehensive and 23 modular EMR cert applications.
46 brave EMR vendors. Although, I think this number is a little misleading. I talked to one of the EHR vendors that has the comprehensive certification and they said that there are only 2 that really have the comprehensive EHR certification. All the rest are “provisional.” I didn’t check those facts, but that says something if indeed it’s true.

CCHIT has announced site certification, but we don’t yet know if HHS will recognize an EHR site certification, no?
After the ONC town hall we now know that ONC will be fine with this as a secondary method of certification if the EHR certifying bodies see it as appropriate.

Nice to see that Mark Leavitt’s recommendations all use CCHIT products. I have a few other options people might consider that don’t.
Mark also referred to not going after a certification to be like gambling. Coming from Vegas I’m not sure I like his gambling reference. However, I really do think there are other options to CCHIT certification. Drummond Group and a third one I learned of at HIMSS which I’ll be writing about shortly too. Although, it certainly makes sense why Mike wouldn’t have acknowledged the other bodies. Although, isn’t CCHIT a non profit? Shouldn’t they just want the best interest of the industry?

With the government program we don’t create the criteria anymore. -Mark Leavitt of CCHIT

CCHIT site certification will be hospitals first. Ambulatory site EHR certification later?
Makes sense that CCHIT would go where the money is, but not a happy thing for the small doctors offices.

“We’re doing EMR usability at a kindergarten level and some EMR vendors don’t pass that.” -Mark Leavitt
This is a really sad fact. It’s nice of Mark to acknowledge it. One other person I talked to at HIMSS suggested to me that CCHIT shouldn’t be doing EMR usability testing at all. However, I’m really not sure what it says about an EMR that can’t pass the simple usability tests that CCHIT does do.

I’m always amazed at how little connection CCHIT has with ONC/HHS. Seems like a telling thing that they don’t.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


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